As an artist I have been working collectively with different kinds of publics for three decades. To me the investigative and exploratory qualities of the arts should serve a process in which we can collectively learn how we can engage and act upon the world in order to renegotiate the conditions of our existence. For me it is important to think, how can the qualities of the arts serve this process? When I’m speaking about practice, it’s not a singular practice but a collaborative undertaking that shapes durational commitments.
Our immediate environments have been, for a long time, under the pressure of globalisation. More and more people feel left out of the way that their daily environment is shaped, formed, governed and financed, and this quite often leads to a serious disconnect between people, institutions and governments. In my work I always question the ways in which we can not only take matters into our own hands in relation to the future of our areas, but how we can collectively try to imagine futures that are more just and that include more of our narratives and histories than at present.
I create fields of interaction, circumscribed by questions around how can we shape the place we live in. How can we find ways in which we want to live together in this rapidly changing world? How can we get a grip on the process of design, regulations, policy making and how can people join and influence these processes? How can people have their say and take responsibilities? To me these are political questions, and they are also questions of the imaginary. They are questions of political imaginaries.
For me, David Harvey’s notion of the right of the city is essential for this purpose. He argues that in order to build cities towards our hearts desire (he literally uses heart’s desire), we have to understand that this is not an individual desire but a collective process. There is a very difficult balance to be found between collective and individual desires, individual desires to live well, to have a safe and healthy environment with your family, to have food on the table, to be able to have work, to be able to send your kids to school as well as a collective negotiation of what that could mean for the city as a whole.